Barton’s commitment to Lake Tahoe community (Opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Barton’s commitment to Lake Tahoe community (Opinion)

Dr. Matthew Wannacott

Barton Health is a dedicated partner in our community’s health. We have cared for generations of families, providing excellent care since 1963.

Safety and quality are everyone’s priority at Barton Health, and it’s a united team that achieves the high standards we’ve come to expect.

Our nurses are critical to those teams — they are on the front line of every patient’s experience, and we rely on their compassion and skill to provide a comfortable and healing environment.

They significantly contribute to the quality and safety records for which Barton has been recognized over many years by the Joint Commission, the Hospital Quality Institute, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and many others. Barton remains committed to providing safe, high-quality patient care, and we know our nurses feel the same.

Like all of Barton’s employees, we treat our nurses well.

The average wage of a full-time nurse at Barton is $48 per hour or $99,000 a year.

Our compensation practices provide employees, on average, with a 3-4% wage increase annually based on their performance, or for those who have been with us for many years and have reached the top of their wage scale, they receive a lump sum equal to 3-4%.

Barton matches up to 5% in a company retirement plan.

New employees — including nurses — receive 4.5 weeks of paid earned time off a year. This grows to seven weeks after five years for full-time employees.

Barton offers a choice of three health benefit plans, the most popular of which costs $20-$60 per pay period for healthcare coverage for an entire family.

Our nurse colleagues care selflessly for our patients and go above and beyond what is required of them. We respect them and truly value their expertise, as does every employee and physician at the hospital.

For the past 18 months, we’ve been in contract negotiations with the California Nurses’ Association, an Oakland-based labor union voted in by Barton nurses to represent them at the bargaining table.

Although we have already reached agreement on 29 proposals and continue productive discussions on many more proposals, the union has called nurses away from patients’ bedsides onto a picket line and engaged in a community campaign aimed at diminishing Barton’s reputation.

The union also filed unfounded complaints with the National Labor Relations Board — of which the NLRB has found no merit. In fact, the NLRB has substantiated Barton’s claim that the nurses’ union has not bargained in good faith.

It is not uncommon for labor unions to use pressure tactics to create community disruption in the hope it provides leverage at the bargaining table. But statements about the quality of care at Barton — care provided by our nurses — are unfair and uncalled for.

We know that the process of negotiating a labor contract can be disruptive, yet we will not be distracted from our number one priority: providing safe care to our community.

We remain focused on providing exceptional care to all our patients as we have for 56 years.

Facts about union negotiations can be found at http://www.bartonhealth.org/union-facts.

Dr. Matthew Wonnacott is the chief medical officer for Barton Health.